Finding treasurers while downsizing

It all started about three weeks ago. I tried to open the top middle drawer of my desk only to find that it was so crammed full that something was keeping it from fully opening. Now I can’t remember whether this year or any year previous I have made a New Year’s Resolution, but I should have. A resolution to head the list could have been to clean out that drawer.

So at last I said, “Today is the day!” Now I won’t tell all that I had in that drawer, but I rescued 60+ ball point pens all but 5 still had ink in them. They are now bagged up ready for the Stuff the Bus donation for school kids — I hope they might put them to good use.

Though smaller, I had many more paper clips scattered throughout — no, I am not the kind of person to form a paper clip chain, but I am stashing them in a small box — may I never ever think about purchasing paper clips.

I did find some valuable items – several two-dollar bills that I tend to keep whenever I come across one. There were also some odd coins and paper money from various vacations: Canadian (of course), Euros, but also some outdated coins that probably are no longer useable from Italy, Spain, Russia, China, and elsewhere.


My cleaning and tossing has been rather active since that three week period. I got to thinking about downsizing some of my not very valuable possessions. Maybe I am too sentimental a guy, but I have always had trouble with that.

One of the big sources of heavy stuff to unload has been various books. Somehow I accumulated at least five or six coffee table books when I have only one coffee table.

Not long ago I managed to give away my coffee table book on all of the art work of Norman Rockwell. The next heaviest volume is one of Rembrandt’s works. So far I have held onto that, but the Currier and Ives book and a book on the people of Russia and the architecture of London have all now been dispersed. Some books went to people I thought might enjoy them and some books went to the Avera Thrift Shop.

I did find a treasure that I knew I had someplace, but I was not sure where. t is my father’s fifth-grade literature textbook, a McGuffey Reader. He signed it probably in 1911 or 1912 and his signature was beginning to look like what became a fairly artistic signing with beautiful scrolls fancying up the letters.

Now some place I am pretty sure I have a collection of books about George Armstrong Custer — one of the books that George himself wrote and three books that his wife wrote about George, but written after the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

His wife, Libby, lived almost fifty years after that momentous event and the books were clearly a defense of Custer’s last battle. Now if only I could find the appropriate box in which those books are stored.


Last week’s Time Magazine had several articles in it about the Climate. One of the articles reminded me of my large collection of travel books. The article, “Awash in Kenya,” took me back to a vacation years back into the Gregory Rift Valley, a geologic area from Somalia through Kenya and Tanzania. The Rift essentially was (is being) formed as the techtonic plates in that area are pulling apart from one another – which began about 35 million years ago.

There are a few lakes there that are being affected by climate change that is leading to making the area uninhabitable by local peoples. The increase in rainfall there is the culprit. There is no where for the extra rainwater to go so the lakes are overflowing their banks.

There are only two fresh water lakes (Baringo and Naivasha) in the grouping and about five salt water lakes. Lake Naivasha I was privileged to visit and was astounded at some of the approximately 450 distinct bird species in the area. Naivasha is relatively shallow and is at the highest altitude of the lakes in the Rift Valley. Our small boat was careful not to go near the many hippos who are often in the water there.

In one case, a salt water lake (Borgoria) and the freshwater Baringo have expanded so that they are now within about six miles of one another. In the not so distant past, the two lakes were separated by twelve miles. Should the two waters mix, it would destroy much of the freshwater industry around Baringo in addition to ruining the land in the area for farming. About 100,000 people are dependent on the Baringo fresh water area. The depth of the Baringo has increased by 40 feet! creating and exasperating environmental and climate catastrophe.

Signifying the importance of conditions in this area, last week President Joe Biden appointed Jeffrey Feltman as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, the area of the Rift Valley and the surrounding region that includes Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan where armed conflicts have been prevalent.


To end this column on a little more promising note, Rotary International just recently added the Environment as a new Area of Focus for its projects to improve world conditions. That Area of Focus joins the following six areas of emphasis for The Rotary Foundation:

Peace Building and Conflict Prevention; Disease Prevention and Treatment; Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; Maternal and Child Health; Basic Education and Literacy; Community Economic Development.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!


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